Article by Aidan Wallace, Toronto Sun
Whether or not pot smoking has driven up cases of impaired driving has been hotly debated since cannabis was legalized in October 2018..But a recent report out of Edmonton suggests there has been a slight increase in the prevalence in drug-impaired driving since legalization..The report found Edmonton police arrested 19 more drug-impaired drivers between a 10 month period after legalization compared to the 10 months prior to legalization..And a a 2019 report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) found “cannabis use by drivers exceeds that of alcohol among nighttime drivers and cannabis is among the most frequently found drugs in drivers involved in serious crashes.”.However, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told The Toronto Sun there hasn’t been a “massive spike” in drug-impaired driving since cannabis was legalized..Schmidt attributed any rise in the crime to the increased awareness and training officers have now that cannabis is legal..“As (cannabis) became legal, we also had more officers trained in the detection and investigation of drug-impaired driving,” Schmidt said..Schmidt explained that officers are more “attuned” to the issues surrounding cannabis-impaired driving since legalization..Whether a driver is stopped for suspected drunk driving or drug-impaired driving it’s “the same offence under the Criminal Code,” Schmidt said..Sgt. Jason Kraft, of the Toronto Police Service’s Traffic Safety Program, echoed Schmidt’s sentiment..“I think its to early to say,” Kraft said of the potential link between cannabis legalization and increased rates of drug-impaired driving..The Edmonton report found it cost $89.48 an hour to process a drunk driver and at least $536.88 for a cannabis-impaired driver..“A roadside test (for a drunk driver) could take literally minutes,” Kraft said, explaining why there might be a cost difference. Kraft noted, however, there a multitude of factors that go into estimating the cost..It could take additional time for officers to conduct a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST), use drug screening devices, and administer breath tests to determine if an individual is impaired by a drug such as cannabis, Kraft said..That doesn’t necessarily mean increased costs for taxpayers though..Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said whether an officer pulls over a drunk driver or high driver “the process is the same.”.As time passes and more data is collected, the picture of how cannabis legalization has impacted driving will surely become clearer..But the CCSA report cited one study that recommended working to shift the attitudes of young people who believe officers can’t detect and charge high drivers and that they understand the risks associated with driving while impaired.
Too many drivers smoking pot: MADDIf the past years is anything to go by, statistics on cannabis-impaired driving don’t look good..Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD) released a 2018 report that found 45% of Candian drivers killed behind the wheel in 2014 tested positive for cannabis.